Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pesto certainly isn't on the menu of traditional items for Rosh Hashanah. 

But, I was just outside gathering cherry tomatoes for tonight's feast and I couldn't help but notice the basil...lots of it!  Thai basil, lemon basil, cinnamon basil, boxwood basil and, of course, Italian basil.
Boxwood Basil

Pesto is a great way to use up a lot of basil. It's so quick and easy to make (5 minutes, really) that I decided to grab some basil and make some.  I can get it done while waiting for the pot of water for kneidel (matzo balls) to come to a boil. Pesto is wonderful to drizzle on salads, maybe heirloom tomatoes if you have any left, or tossed with boiled potatoes.  It's incredibly versatile so think beyond a bowl of pasta.  The best thing is that pesto freezes really well, So, even if I'm not serving it today or tomorrow or even next week, it can go into the freezer to enjoy at another time.

I have several recipes that I like to use for pesto. This is one of my favorites. It uses both pine nuts and walnuts so the flavor is a bit more complex than some recipes. While I'm not a cheese eater, I do love pesto. I usually take some of the basil, garlic and nut mixture out before adding the cheeses.  I promise you, it's delicious either way!

2 cups fresh basil leaves, washed and patted dry
4 large garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 cup extra virgin olive oil - use the best - it makes a difference!
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine the basil, garlic, walnuts and pine nuts in the bowl of a food processor.  With the motor running, slowly pour in the olive oil in a slow, steady stream. (This will emulsify the mixture giving it body and richness.)
Shut the motor off.  Add the cheeses, a liberal grinding of black pepper and a large pinch of salt.  Turn the motor on just to combine the ingredients.  Transfer to a bowl and cover until ready to use.

Makes about 2 cups

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